A green card grants permanent residency in the United States. Obtaining this document is a significant step toward building a stable future here.
Before you apply for a green card, you should understand the steps involved and the requirements you need to meet.
First, determine your eligibility. You can take various pathways to a green card, such as family sponsorship, employment or refugee status. You can also apply through the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Each category has specific requirements, so carefully assess which one applies to your situation.
If you are eligible for a green card through family sponsorship, a U.S. citizen relative or a permanent resident must file a petition on your behalf. For employment-based green cards, your employer starts the process by filing the necessary forms. Make sure you accurately complete and submit all required documents.
Waiting period and Visa Bulletin
Upon petition approval, you must wait for your priority date to become current. The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin indicating the current priority dates for each category. When your priority date becomes current, you can move forward with your application.
Completing Form I-485
Form I-485, also known as Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is the main application for a green card. Provide accurate information and supporting documents, including proof of identity, employment authorization and medical examination records. Pay the required fees and submit your application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Interview and approval
USCIS may call you for an interview with an immigration officer as they process your application. Be prepared to answer questions about your background, employment and relationship (if applicable).
If everything is in order, they will approve your green card application and you have legal permanent residency in the U.S. USCIS approved about 740,000 green card applications in 2021, the most recent year with available data.
Applying for a green card demands careful attention to detail and knowledge of immigration laws. By meeting all application requirements, you can improve your chances of achieving permanent residency.